Lupton & Helvetica

As I was watching “Helvetica”, I couldn’t help but be astonished at how often Helvetica is seen in everyday life. From packages, to billboards, signs and logos Helvetica is prominently placed all over the world.

Companies use Helvetica in their wordmarks and logos because Helvetica is efficient and neutral but it also gives the company a human-like feel. Helvetica is “accessible, transparent, and accountable.” It is amazing to me that the typeface, Helvetica, can mean so much to so many different companies all over the world, in so many different contexts, but still effectively conveys much more than just words written in a typeface. Helvetica is revolutionary in that it is a perfect balance of “push and pull”. It has a flair and personality to it. I think Helvetica says to companies, “You can trust me because I’ve always been accountable.” In the movie, Helvetica, it talked about creating typefaces that are “simple, clean and powerful” contrasting with creating typefaces that are “simple, clean, and boring.” I think the prominence of Helvetica around the world definitely defines the typeface as simple, clean and powerful. The fact that Helvetica can be used in so many different contexts and is a versatile typeface makes it an obvious choice for a lot of companies and designers, however with that versatility comes trust and accountability.

I found it interesting that Lupton pointed out the importance of hierarchy in organizing content.  Lupton states, “A typographic hierarchy expresses the organization of content, emphasizing some elements and subordinating others. A visual hierarchy helps readers scan a text, knowing where to enter and exit and how to pick and choose among its offerings.” (Lupton pg. 132) I never thought about hierarchy before until I was reading what Lupton writes about it. It is extremely important because it gives visual cues to readers that are consistent throughout the content. Lupton gives examples of how to create hierarchy and specific examples of how to draw attention to specific words or phrases within text. Lupton says you can use italics, boldface, small caps or a change in color to create distinction within text. However, Lupton warns that using too many of these emphasizing techniques will be too busy and create confusion. Lupton suggests to pick one shift and stick with it.

Hierarchy is such a fundamental part of design because it sets the tone for the work. If the hierarchy is off, the work can look messy and poorly designed. When hierarchy is done correctly, readers don’t have to put much effort into reading the content, they can easily read what message you are trying to get across, which is the big picture after all.


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